Roll up your sleeves, This simple art – which takes a few minutes to master – makes a world of difference to your appearance and the social signals you send.
Should your sleeve stop above or below the elbow?
The simple answer is: above the elbow if you’re about to do work. And below the elbow if you’re just cooling off and want to let in some air or to signal that it’s the end of the day.
4 Ways To Roll Your Sleeves
For all the methods listed below, the first step is to undo the buttons on the cuff and gauntlet of your shirt. You’ll find a gauntlet button halfway up the sleeve opening on most good shirts. The openings are there to allow for proper sleeve-rolling and cuff-ironing – if they’re long enough to serve their purpose they’ll be too long to stay closed without a button.
1. The Master Roll up
Modern sartorialists accept the master roll as the preferred way to roll up sleeves. But I find many men have never heard of it.
- Roll up the sleeve to about two widths of the cuff.
- Smooth any creases or folds in the fabric.
- Roll from the bottom end of the sleeve once more to cover the cuff, leaving only the top end of the cuff exposed.
- If the inside of the cuff has a contrasting color or design, show just a hint of it and cover the rest.
- Hold the top edge of the cuff and pull down to undo the fold.
Pro Tip: This is how to roll up sleeves when your shirt has a contrasting lining or design pattern on the inside of the cuff. The striking contrast is visible ONLY when you use the master roll. Show off the chambray inner cuffs on your flannel shirt.
This is my favorite method to roll shirt sleeves for the following reasons:
- It’s the least restrictive. It gets the sleeve completely out of the way – allowing for natural arm movement.
- The sleeves locked in place and won’t come undone as the day progresses.
- Unrolling the sleeve is simple and quick.
- It keeps the whole appearance neat and in place.
2. AIFA Roll ( Single Roll)
The AIFA roll screams casual. This is the easiest technique to fold your shirt sleeve.
It adheres to the rule of thirds – a design principle that has implications in men’s style too. In the AIFA roll, the sleeves expose only a third of your arm. This ratio is visually appealing according to the rule of thirds.
- Fold the bottom of the sleeve once, about the width of the cuff.
- Using a similar width, repeat a second time with the folded cuff.
- Avoid smoothing the fabric. The AIFA roll is supposed to look casual and effortless.
The AIFA roll is suitable for men who have short and narrow arms. Rolling your sleeves using this technique will make your arms look proportional to the rest of your body.
This roll ends below the elbow and is perfect for a day out with the family – with a dress shirt and your favorite denim. The only problem is that it comes undone quite easily.
3. The Basic Roll
Also called the ‘Beginner Roll,’ this method is the intuitive way to roll sleeves. If you’ve ever watched someone who hasn’t been around people who know how to roll up sleeves, you’ll see them use the basic roll.
Depending on the shirt and fit, the basic roll can be time-consuming. It restricts your hand movements and is difficult to undo.
- Using the cuff as a measuring point, fold the cuff once.
- Repeat the first step several times, tugging at the fabric to make sure it is straight and smooth.
- Roll up until you go past the elbow.
The Basic sleeve roll is suitable when your shirt sleeves are considerably wider than your arms. The extra fabric is required for the third fold.
Some casual shirts feature a button or thin strip of fabric on the inside of the sleeve to secure a basic roll.
4. The High Roller
This method suits men with big biceps and tattoos on their arms. The sleeves are rolled well above the elbows.
It’s also great for manual work and gives you a laidback look.
To achieve the high roller look, fold your sleeves before slipping into your shirt.
- Lay your shirt down on a flat surface.
- Fold your sleeve about a cuff width.
- Follow the same step a second time, covering the folded portion of the cuff.
- Roll the sleeve a third and fourth time to cover the entire cuff.
The High Roller can also be achieved while wearing a shirt and works best with semi-casual or informal shirts.
On more fitted shirts, this technique looks like you have a bagel stuck on your biceps. The Master Roll is better suited for fitted formal shirts.